Contact: Adam D. Kramer, (518) 455-5073 or (518) 441-5183
For Immediate Release:
Friday, September 28, 2007

Tedisco, Assembly Minority To Sue Governor, DMV To Prevent Driver's Licenses From Getting In Hands Of Illegal Aliens
State given October 31 deadline to stop "reckless" plan which endangers New Yorkers

Assembly Minority Leader James Tedisco (R,C,I-Schenectady-Saratoga) today joined members of his Conference and County Clerks to issue an ultimatum that Gov. Spitzer and the Commissioner of the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles immediately pull the plug on a policy to allow illegal aliens to obtain New York driver's licenses or they will face a lawsuit.

The Governor and the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles are in direct violation of state law which requires a social security number be provided to obtain a driver's license (Section 502, subsection 1 of the Vehicle and Traffic Law).

"It should be no surprise that the Governor chooses to ignore state law, subvert the legislature, and dictate policy. Of all people, the self-proclaimed 'Sheriff of Wall Street' should know he's not above the law," said Tedisco.

Tedisco and his Assembly Minority Conference are calling on the Governor and the DMV to act by October 31st to rescind this proposal, follow the law or face legal action. Tedisco has contended that Spitzer's plan is a "clear and present danger" to the safety and security of New York State and the entire nation.

"In this post 9/11 world, the last thing the Governor and state DMV should be doing is handing out driver's licenses to potential terrorists," said Tedisco. "The safety of New Yorkers is not something that should fall prey to politics. Governor Spitzer: Follow the law or we will see you in court."

"The Governor circumvented the democratic process when he made this decision," said Assemblyman Phil Boyle (R,I,C-8th A.D.) "This decision blatantly ignores the concerns of many New Yorkers."

"As a former Schoharie County Clerk, I know first-hand what Clerks around the state must be feeling as DMV offices are directed to issue driver licenses to people who cannot prove they're here legally," said Assemblyman Pete Lopez (R,C,I - Schoharie). "Those of us who have worked in county DMV offices know that the driver's license is viewed as a gateway document that opens the door to many other opportunities and services within our society. Handing licenses out like lollipops to illegal immigrants is an affront to those who are in our country legally and puts our communities at risk."

"In a world in which identities are often stolen simply over the Internet, how can we possibly give away the most common form of identification that we use daily," said Assemblyman George Amedore (R,C-Rotterdam). "This seems irresponsible and the Governor should have to answer directly to these claims."

"The governor, as we can see from his history, has little concern about the niceties of law. Whether it be the election law, in regard to his race for Attorney General in 1998, the penal law, as evidenced by Trooper-gate, or the immigration law, as evidenced by his latest antics," said Assemblyman Tom Kirwan (R,C - Newburgh). "In addition to compromising national security, this law will make it more expensive for law-abiding citizens of New York State. New Yorkers who currently do not have a passport will now have to buy one to get on airplanes at New York airports. There is also the possibility of election fraud, another law I am sure the governor cares little about."

Spitzer's administrative policy change creates a dangerous loophole in state DMV regulations, allowing potential terrorists the opportunity to obtain state driver licenses without regard to their residency status.

According to the National Immigration Law Center, seven of the 9/11 hijackers acquired identifications in Virginia. In fact, it has been reported the terrorists paid illegal aliens to help them obtain valid IDs by making false statements of residency. This allowed them to move about our country freely and to rent vehicles and board aircraft used in the plot against us.

The Federal Real ID Act and the proposed federal regulations to implement it require states to meet certain minimum security standards in order for state driver licenses to be acceptable. Requirements include an applicant produce evidence of a valid Social Security Number. Unlike Spitzer's plan, the only foreign documentation that would be accepted would be a foreign passport with a valid, current US Visa. The federal standards were developed to protect against identity fraud and to protect our national security.

Several county clerks, who run the local DMV offices across the state, have stated they disagree with the governor's plan to disregard state vehicle and traffic law and some have even said they will not enforce the Governor's scheme.

"The Governor's proposal to grant licenses to illegal aliens is just plain wrong," said Rensselaer County Clerk Frank J. Merola, New York State Association of County Clerks' representative to the state Department of Motor Vehicles. "Rensselaer County will not issue any driver's licenses to any alien who cannot provide proof that they are in this country legally."

"As a County Clerk who runs local DMV offices, I am deeply concerned that driver's licenses will fall into the wrong hands and put lives at risk," said Saratoga County Clerk Kathleen Marchione, President, New York State Association of County Clerks. "This misguided policy is bad for motorists and puts the safety and security of New Yorkers in jeopardy, and that is why New Yorkers can count on me to not issue licenses to illegal immigrants."

"It's really disturbing how this major far-reaching policy shift was announced and implemented without any input from the Legislature or even the public," said Tedisco. "Sadly, I guess it's what we've come to expect from a governor who says he could govern without lawmakers. I think any policy that could affect the safety of our state and its 18 million legal residents is certainly worth discussing with the 212 elected representatives of the New York State Legislature."

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